Dinner for someone else’s in-laws…Oh, the pressure!

Last weekend my friend Lori and I did our usual Sunday morning power walk. Almost every Sunday morning we walk six miles at a rapid clip and solve the world’s problems- or at least our world’s- and we feel so much better as a result. Anyway, last Sunday as she walked into my kitchen, Lori was a bit panicked. You see, Lori is many wonderful things; but she is not a cook. Sunday found Lori with a dinner dilemma: her in-laws were coming for dinner and she had no idea what to make.

Off the bat I began to pepper her with suggestions- how about risotto? Too challenging. Soup? No, she wanted to use their new grill. Okay, how about homemade Japanese Chicken Skewers, with rice, miso soup and edamame ordered from the local Japanese place? A tempting mix of “make it/make it possible.” Ooh, intriguing- but where to get the ingredients for the marinade on a beautiful Sunday morning? Why, my kitchen of course. Deal done. Now we could get on with our walk and the really juicy topics that consumed us like first grade teachers, teen texting rules and world peace.

So, we finished our walk and returned to my kitchen where I handed Lori a scribbled on piece of paper with a tweaked recipe from the New York Times. I had made it the week before and my family all adored it. I was sure that I had made plenty for dinner for all and for me to have a lunch the next day; yet, there was not a bite left over at the end of dinner. The recipe was a cinch with the exception of a few specialty ingredients that required advance planning- sake and mirin. But, once they were in my pantry, everything else was easily found at the grocery store.

In five minutes I had measured, grated, chopped and mixed and the marinade was ready to go. Lori left with instructions for marinating and grilling her chicken skewers and was happy that her dinner dilemma was done and a beautiful day could be spent at the pool.

But, a funny thing happened when she left…I worried. Would it be good? Would they like it? I have to admit, I felt very responsible. The next morning I waited by the phone. No call. No email. Ut-oh! Perhaps it was a bomb? I finally caved and lobbed a call in…what would she say? Turns out my worries were in vain- they loved it! She had simply had been busy to call and hadn’t made me the center of her universe…the nerve!

Chicken Skewers with Ginger, Garlic and Soy
Adapted from The New York Times
Serves 6
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1- 11/2” cubes
1 c soy sauce
½ c mirin
4 T sake
2 T brown sugar
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T grated fresh ginger

In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, brown sugar, garlic and ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Let cool to room temperature. Reserve ¼ c of the sauce for serving. Pour remaining sauce in a ziplock with chicken pieces and let marinate for 1-1 ½ hours in refrigerator.

Prepare grill and thread chicken on skewers and grill, turning every three minutes until chicken is cooked all the way through- about 9 minutes or so. Note: These can also by broiled, by the way.

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